Stand-up comedian, Georgia Ragsdale, had a sudden problem – she just couldn’t do stand-up anymore. It was 2003 and her mom died and she hit a comedy roadblock.
Georgia had had a very successful career with her stand-up. Georgia says, “I started doing standup full time in 1990 and had a big career. I had a couple of sitcom deals. Most never make it on the air, but I was pretty happy I got that far. I toured nationally.”
Then her mom died and besides needing to help her father, she hit a kind of writers’ block and couldn’t continue in the career that had been her life. Eventually, she decided to make a big change and move out of Los Angeles, where she’d lived for a long time.
She says, “I had lived in Seattle in the ‘80s and knew a lot of people. I moved back in 2011.”
She began to mine her life for stories and write them down, memoir-style. Part of what she started writing about was her coming out story as a 16 year-old in Texas in a conservative suburb. Actually, she didn’t tell her parents, her parents were told by other community members.
Georgia says, “Everyone at school knew about a relationship I had with a girl, and told my parents about it. I was outed!
“It was a suburb of Houston. Huge schools, loads of families with kids all the same ages. It was a certain type of family. Middle class, and competing with each other about being perfect nuclear family. But people were gay and had mental illnesses (among other kind of less than perfect issues), even though everyone was pretending everything was perfect.”
Her memoir began to turn into a stage piece which she is performing Pride Weekend at 12th Avenue Arts. It’s a theater/dance/music fusion piece with Georgia and four others. Set in suburban Houston in the 1960s and 1970s, short slide shows using family photos prove she is not making this up as she travels through a world of unusual characters and events. The cast includes Seattle dance and actor talents: Lodi McClellan, Lisa Ravenholt, Jack Lush and Eric Pitsenbarger.
The title is Follow You Everywhere – A memoir: Growing up and coming out in Texas.
Georgia says, “It’s a line that is from the show, one of the things my dad said to me, “This is the kind of thing that will follow you everywhere,” meaning the shame and guilt of being gay will follow you everywhere in your life. It was meant as a bad comment at the time I came out to him. I was only 16.
“Ultimately, my parents healed whatever they needed to and time was helpful. Other people’s kids came out that they knew. I grew up ok and I think they were afraid that I would be unhappy and unsuccessful. My triumph was that I took all these things that happened and laughed about them as a standup comedian.
“The feeling at the end of the show is one of celebration. I would caution people not to leave at the end of Act 1! We end with a very big cliffhanger and you should come back for Act 2! If you leave at the end of Act 1, they’ll need therapy! And in the show I figured out why I couldn’t do standup. I can now, but I choose to do theater.”
Follow You Everywhere
June 26, 27 and 28
7:30 PM every night and Saturday matinee at 2:30 PM
12th Ave Arts
1620 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill (near corner of 12th & Pine Street)